25 November 2009

To Ceret!

From Ventenac, we traveled about an hour south to the village of Ceret to visit some French friends -- Mado and Patrice.

Ceret is situated in the Pyrenees-Orientales part of the Languedoc Rousillon region of France. The village is tucked away in a valley at the foothills of the mountains and minutes from the shore of the Med. It is also part of French Catalonia and the Catalan influence is everywhere from the accent of the language to the politics of the people to the flavor of the food.

Mado and Patrice treated us to a whirlwind weekend of fantastic meals and exciting little outings. 

One of those outings was to Collioure, a great seaside village boasting lots of art galleries, outdoor cafes, and of course, unbeatable views...

This is a traditional Catalan fishing boat docked at Collioure.  The trick, apparently, is that they go out at night and drop a lantern into the water, attracting fishies.  Whatever the technique, they are doing it right because the seafood in this region is amazing!

We also had two opportunities to visit Spain.   

Figueres is one of the first cities you come to entering Spain.  It is the birthplace of Dali and a center of Catalan culture.  Mado was coming into town for a Catalan language/cultural exchange program and we tagged along, so glad we did!

One piece of Catalan culture we learned...they take their ham really seriously.  

This is a musician who performed at the Catalan language exchange event we went attended.   None of us were able to figure out what this instrument was, but the sound it produced was awesome and unlike anything we'd ever heard.  

We took a second day-trip into Spain with friends of Mado and Patrice's.  We enjoyed a great Spanish meal in the center of a little medieval village called St. Marti D'Empuries and a leisurely stroll along the coast.  What more could you ask for out of an afternoon?

Don't trip, Patrice!  He was completely absorbed by his newspaper for a good part of the walk. 

Our walk followed the winding coastline...

took us along the beach...

led us to the site of an ancient Roman town named Empuries.  It is still being excavated, but from what we could see, it is massive.  

Eventually, we ended up in the town of L'Escala.  While it was relatively calm on this November day, apparently, it is hopping in the summer months!

Happy Thanksgiving to all back home!!!!  Thinking of you...